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Counterfeiting isn’t free money, it is theft. The money illicitly printed by counterfeiters doesn’t rest on any value produced, and will therefore deplete the value of dollars honestly earned by individuals and businesses. Counterfeiting therefore has a dual cost: a direct cost, with large R&D expenditures to protect the currency, and an indirect cost to the economy, by reducing the value of money.

With the economic interactions of mankind, money came around quickly – 2000 BC, per some historians. And with money, came theft. And with theft came violence, murder, property damage, evidence tampering, increased security costs and, most of all, fake money, which has taken every form, including electronic. It didn’t take long for nefarious individuals in every country to realize that it has more profitable to print fake bills than to earn money.

Every week, in Florida alone (1), approx. 70 000 counterfeit dollars are singled out and taken out of the market. And the number of arrests for banknote-forging has been on a steady rise since the year 2000. Fake money does have a cost, of course. But if it has a cost for central banks and secured printing firms who must always find more advanced ways to safeguard their paper from fraud, it has the same cost for counterfeiters – if not more, since they must operate in clandestine circumstances. It takes a large technical apparatus and top expertise to forge actual bills. It is in fact almost the name of the game to make money counterfeiting as least lucrative as possible, by adding security feature so complex they kill the profitability of the fraud.

Precisely, the first and main cost of fake bills lies in the amount of necessary technology to be injected into the notes. By working every aspect of the banknotes (ink, paper, design, security features), the cost of producing a reliable currency is greatly increased by the central banks who purchase the currency from printers. But there is an additional cost to the citizens who use the currency, and it is doubly insidious. First, their money will be worth less because of fraud. Second, they will be tempted to mover their operations towards electronic currency, which seems more secure but is in fact more liable to fraud. Third, whenever the bill is detected as forged – statistically more often when held by low-wage earners who resort more to cash and less to debit cards – the bill will be deemed worthless and refused. Malcolm Farr, analyzing money counterfeiting in Australia, says (2) “Fake currency is being found in restaurants and supermarkets and often it’s a low income earner — who is less likely to use a credit card — who is the loser.”

To tackle this economic disease, a retaliation triangle was set up: Prevention, detection and repression. Prevention is mostly the printer’s responsibility. Firms, such as Oberthur Fiduciaire (in charge of printing some of the euro banknotes (3)), oversee designing and producing banknotes. But they’re also responsible for creating a banknote nearly impossible to forge, by embedding as many security features within it. Many patents were registered by Oberthur Fiduciaire, for example, to uphold and protect banknote integrity in its finest details: Starsheen® (Security feature based on liquid crystal technology allowing brilliant and easily recognisable colorshifting effects), Labyrinth ® (Security background pattern against copying and scanning) or Diaphan® (New generation see-through public recognition security feature, combining iridescence and offset printing), and many others. Every time a new security feature is produced, money counterfeiters must reverse-engineer it before they can try to produce decent-quality forgeries. If the feature is solid, by the time the forgers crack it, a new feature will be produced. Thomas Savare, Oberthur Fiduciaire CEO, rightly considers that the fight against fake money is therefore an ongoing race.

Detection is made by banks (which scan the bills that come in) and retail (4) shop owners, who sometimes run a UV lamp over the notes they receive, so as to check their authenticity. If a concentration of forged banknotes is found in an area, it will trigger an investigation. Julie Zeveloff, executive editor of Business insider, gives a list of tips (5) to help counterfeit note detection : “Bills are printed with a security thread embedded in the bill rather than printed on it. The threads are clearly visible when the bill is held up to the light […] The threads also glow blue when held under a UV light.”

Finally, repression is made solely by government agencies. Since forging actual banknotes is considered a direct attack on the State, it is punished far more harshly than electronic fraud, which targets only private citizens and can be fragmented into small under-radar-cover misdemeanours, while yielding far more return in the end. Depending on the country and the magnitude of the fraud, sentences can be maximal: forged money can earn its creator 20 years of prison in the United States, a lifetime in Japan, and death in China.

This triple-set for fighting counterfeit money seems to work quite well, as counterfeit money circulating in the world is estimated to be under 0.1%, a rate far too low to incur economic danger for economies. But fraud has incurred defiance towards hard currency: “demand for banknotes is found to decline following a counterfeiting shock, consistent with a loss of confidence in the currency”, explains a study (6) from Reserve Bank of Australia, written by Nathan Viles, Alexandra Rush and Thomas Rohling, and entitled “The Social Costs of Currency Counterfeiting”. And vacuum was quickly filled by the emergence and generalization of electronic payment. The enormous surge in online fraud has now made electronic payments less safe than actual currency in bills or coins. It might seem at first glance it’s part of a general plan among thieves: to coax the public towards more electronic payments, where fraud is easier.

So, the expenses committed to protecting hard currency will make even more sense, if economies revert slowly back to hard cash, in the face of mounting online fraud. The securing of cash is therefore as vital as ever. Ewan Ogilvie, MD of Your Cash Europe Ltd, a European ATM provider, insists (7) upon it: “For small businesses, independent retailers and micro-businesses, cash is an absolute necessity for customer transactions, paying bills and employees”. It is vital for these companies that cash be protected, or the cost will be even higher than the price of protecting it today.

(1) http://www.businessinsider.com/the-real-price-of-counterfeit-money-infographic-2012-4?IR=T
(2) http://www.news.com.au/finance/money/budgeting/rba-report-highlights-the-cost-of-forged-currencies-to-low-income-earners-and-small-businesses/news-story/544f860913f284b0a52e28b85260ce0b
(3) http://www.moonproject.co.uk/beautiful-banknotes-oberthur-fiduciaire-takes-full-advantage-of-its-history-and-technological-change/
(4) http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/mcdonalds-test-the-key-to-uncovering-fake-50-notes-20161002-grthtz.html
(5) http://www.businessinsider.com/the-real-price-of-counterfeit-money-infographic-2012-4?IR=T
(6) http://www.rba.gov.au/publications/rdp/2015/pdf/rdp2015-05.pdf
(7) http://www.newbusiness.co.uk/articles/banking-finance/the-new-polymer-note-what-does-it-mean-future-cash

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Students' Column

The Benefits of Online Education

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So many universities are offering to teach online and long distance, and there are many benefits to taking these kind of courses. Where you can learn depends on how much you have to spend, where you live, if you have transport, and can stop many people from getting onto the the course they want to, or even getting educated at all.

There are so many benefits to getting qualifications. You can get into sectors that need to to have specialized experience like working in a hospital, or getting into law. Learning is a great to get into a different line of work, or challenge yourself intellectually. Whatever your reasons, long distance learning can benefit a lot of people.

You Can Learn Anywhere

If you live in the middle of nowhere and physically can’t access a university campus then you have difficulty finding the course you want to study near you, or somewhere you can easily access. Unlike traditional education, there doesn’t need to be a number of students for a class to run, because students are all over the country. Therefore, you have a better chance of studying exactly what you want, and getting exactly the classes you want to study.

You can study from home, or anywhere else you want. Many people work best from, or don’t want all the distractions and inconveniences that come from attending classes, so get a better learning experience by working from home. You never know, an online msn degree could be for you. Sometimes a bit of comfort and relaxation in your own home can help to you to learn better, and retain that information.

Make Your Classes Work Round You

Attending classes on campus means you have to make time for travel and time for the actual classes too, which can take up a lot of your time. If you have families, jobs, or other commitments this can be very difficult. With online classes, however, they are much more flexible. This means you don’t have to sacrifice your other commitments, or use your time unnecessarily, because you can make your classes work round you. Are you a night owl? Then you can learn all you want when you work best.

Save Money

Online classes are notoriously cheaper than traditional ones. This is because you don’t have to be constantly present on campus, and you won’t be using as many resources either. Having cheaper tuition is a bonus, and make these courses accessible to many more people than traditional ones.

You also be saving on travel too. Travel is a huge expense for many people who take courses, and can really add up when you are already paying tuition. Save time and money by learning online.

There are so many great benefits to learning online, rather than in person on campus. These courses are becoming increasingly popular, because they are in demand. More people can study exactly the course they want, and can do so even if they live on remote parts of the country. There are so many benefits to taking online courses, so find about ones available to you today.

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How Online Education Could Change the World

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Online education, whether it be via Massive Open Online Courses from the likes of FutureLearn, edX and Coursera or via top colleges and universities around the globe, are not only very convenient for those students who want save money and learn in their own time – they might just change the world.

Sound like a big claim to make? Consider the following:

You Can Learn Anything for Free

This might not seem like a big deal to you if you were lucky enough to have a full college fund or obtain a scholarship when you turned 18, nor might it matter much to you if you were able to take out a reasonable loan for your degree, but there are lots of people all over the world who simply cannot afford to get an education. Because they cannot earn enough money to pay for an education, they, their families and their communities are stuck in poverty. If they could learn the skills they need to move up the ladder and make more of their lives, then all of us will benefit as a result.

All it would take would be for poor towns and villages to be set up with internet access and a handful of devices to access them, and the uneducated could become educated.

Access

Of course, a lot of people living in a lot of places, particularly in the third world, don’t have access to a decent education simply because there is no infrastructure to support them – there are no schools and colleges nearby, and online courses could change this too.

We Can All Learn Anything We Want

When learning is as simply as logging on to a computer at your convenience, you no longer have to worry about moving half-way across the country to do the only ba policing degree that’s suitable for you or the only writing course that’s worth a dime, which means fewer of us will have to settle in the future and consequently more of the right people will enter the right occupations. That is something that will benefit us all.

Lifelong Learning Will Become the Norm

Being able to learn anything online, and often for free or a very small fee is sure to convince more of us to go on learning long past when we would usually have settled into a routine. This means we will have more people in the workforce who have a wide range of knowledge and ideas, and of course, the more educated we all are, the better our prospects for the future are as a collective.

It’s Better for the Environment

Think about it – when we have fewer people commuting to school, using physical textbooks and making regular trips to the library, instead choosing to learn from the comfort of their own home, it is going to have a positive effect on the environment and that is exactly the kind of thing that we need right now.

If online learning continues to get better and be more widely available, it is surely going to change the world, sometimes in a big way, sometimes small, but for sure, it will shake things up!

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Students' Column

Which Countries Rank For The Best Quality Of Education?

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People who want to study abroad should take the time to research their country of choice. Some nations offer a much higher quality of education than others. With that in mind, this article should serve to point you in the right direction. Just ensure you continue your research after clicking away from this page.

Belgium

Belgium is a quiet country with a vibrant population. It’s a peaceful place where the government invests heavily in education for its citizens. Foreigners can apply for university with ease, and some of the best minds in Europe lecture at the top colleges.

Finland

Most people overlook Finland because they know little about the country and its people. However, in recent rankings, Finland achieved second place when it came to determining the best quality of education in the world. So, maybe you should take a look at some of the universities?

Switzerland

Switzerland is considered the best place in the world to go for a first-class education according to most experts. Only 5% of children attend private schools in that nation because the public education system is fantastic.

If you’d like to know more about the potential costs involved when going to Europe for an education; just take a moment to check out the infographic published below. It offers some excellent information that should help to ensure you leave no stone unturned. Studying abroad isn’t for everyone, but it’s guaranteed to become a life-changing experience you will never forget. So, what’s holding you back? Now is the best time to set the wheels in motion.


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